December 2007

Hi, just wanted to drop you a line saying what a breath of fresh air i found your site/blog

I find the way you’re willing to engage in debate with both ‘in-your-face’ atheists (as you call them) and theists heart-warming and deffinatly a large improvement over the GOD-SUCKS type websites which, while i agree with them in many respects, are rather unlikly to get anyone to question their beliefs. One small point id like to make though is while you seem to be on the whole very ballanced and even-handed in your treatment of religion i cant help but thinking “the congratuations, your an atheist” bit of your site seems to be designed to provoke an agressive reaction (even if it is very funny) and seems at odd with the rest of your site.

Personaly id consider myself a fairly strong atheist in that i believe there is no probibility of there being a theist style god, and if there is a deist style god then he is irrelevent and a waste of time believing in. Unlike you though i would argue that instead of just getting people to think about and consider their faith (which we should of course do) we should activly be trying to persuade people that empiricism and rationality lead directly to faith being at best pointless and at worst activly damaging.

Comming from the UK i can say that atheism deffinatly doesnt have any of the stigma attached to it like it sounds like it does in the States (your are an american right?). But still even though the majority of people in the country are either atheists, agnostics or such weak christians that i would question weather or not they actually believe in god and arent just religious for the sake of tradition; still it is seen by politians that to be ‘a man of faith’ is a good thing and i doubt weather a prime minister could come out as an atheist. Most worringly there seems to be an increasing number of american style fundamentalist christians (and muslims) who, with the govenments backing are establishing faith schools where, for example, creationism is taught as the norm and evolution taught as an alternative.

Anyway enough of my ranting, keep up the good work!

Yes, the non-blog part of this site isn’t exactly intellectual. However, I do enjoy the joke, and it drives far more traffic to this blog than it would get otherwise.

You say that we should be not only trying to get people to consider their faith but also trying to persuade them that faith is at best pointless. I disagree (as you note) for four reasons: 1) I think that getting people to examine their beliefs will lead many of them to the conclusion you want to promote, 2) actively speaking against religion is going to make many religious people stop listening, 3) I believe that if a religious person is truly thoughtful about their beliefs, we have nothing to fear from them, and 4) I honestly believe that there are some people who are better off being religious. So, for these reasons, going beyond my goal of getting people to examine their own beliefs would not be pragmatic.

As an example, look at the reaction among many religious people in America (you’re right that I’m an American) to the “new atheist” movement. They are not engaging in dialogue, they are becoming defensive and doing all they can to barricade their position against attack. This leads to social tension, attempts to pass ridiculous laws, bigotry, and other ills. It also lets these Christians play the martyr, which can only help their position. And I don’t think any of it is necessary.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think about this. Thanks for writing!

Posted on December 27, 2007 at 7:28 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Dealing with religious folks

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